July 10, 2009
Salmon en Papillote
by Gareth Mark
Cooking en papillote is an easy do-ahead preparation that is virtually foolproof, and it's a fabulous way to impress guests! Children also enjoy being able to rip open the little present you've left on their plates.
Start by removing the pin bones from the fish if it has any. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper. Visually divide the sheet in half, then center the fish in the middle of one half. For this dish, I used a salmon fillet. Season the fish, then add whatever vegetables you wish to serve with it. In addition to salt, I used fresh dill and thinly sliced lemon. For vegetables I used red bell pepper and green beans. The whole was topped with some caramelized onions and about a tablespoon of butter to make a sauce.
Fold the parchment in half and crimp the edges. I find that simply crimping and tucking as I work my way around works fine. Sometimes it takes an extra fold or two to get the package to hold together. Carefully slide the packet onto a baking sheet. If you're making this ahead of time, put it in the refrigerator until time to cook.
When you're ready to eat, slide the baking sheet into a medium oven and cook until done. You won't be able to check for doneness, so be sure you have a good idea how long the fish will take. The salmon fillet I used needed 12 minutes. Remember that when cooking en papillote you're partially steaming what you're cooking, so things cook faster. It's better to stop too soon with fish than to overcook, so err on the side of shorter cooking times. Besides, things keep cooking for awhile in the packet because of residual heat.
Carefully place the packets on plates and serve. Your guests will tear open the packet to release a wonderfully aromatic steam and find everything inside is cooked just right with flavors that are distinct, yet with notes from the other items in the packet.